Note on the global political-ideological conflict

Image: Alexander Zvir


The three trends that define current geopolitics and the place of the Lula government

There are currently three advertisements about the global political-ideological conflict, depending on the definition of the main contradiction organizing the cleavage of the States' policy. And where does the Lula government stand in this context? We'll see.


The first contradiction organizes an opposition between, on the one hand, the modern western democracies and, on the other, the threats considered despotic or archaic to the modern institutions of liberal and western capitalism.

This is the predominant discourse in the sector with the most modern veneer of the Western capitalist powers, spreading a wide range of values ​​(representative democracies, freedom of opinion and press, sexual freedom, diversity, human rights, globalization) considered as representatives of ( only) possible modernity.

Until about seven years ago, this “modern” vector, articulating a desire for the West, was directed mainly against variations of political Islamism in the Middle East and remnants of socialist states and third-world nationalisms born of the Cold War.

However, since the rise of the Donald Trump phenomenon, as well as the Brexit and the growth of the extreme right on an international scale (Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, Viktor Orbán, etc.), the tone of this propaganda turns against fascist forces that generate confusion and riot in the very organization of the central imperialist States, see the invasion of the Capitol by the most evil Trumpists.

We see, in this way, even a new “anti-fascist movement” developing, supported by the left of Western imperialist systems themselves, around progressive ideals against racism, white supremacy, xenophobia, patriarchal and homophobic culture. The “educated” and westernized middle class is the main mass base of this movement, hence a certain strategic impotence and organizational and ideological confusion.

Ironically, the political discussion thus returns to terms very similar to the public debate of the late eighteenth century: parliamentarism and liberalism versus despotism. And they said that communism was old...


The second main paradigm of contradiction involves the defense of nationalist reactions against the internationalist and culturally dissolving nature of transnational and financial capitalism (often called “globalism”).

Such reactions can take on a traditionalist and even reactionary character (the legacy of tsarism and the Orthodox Church increasingly valued in Vladimir Putin's Russia, Shiite Islam in Iran, the dream of a return of the Turkish-Ottoman sultanate with Recep Erdogan, the return of militarism in Japan, the “make america great again” of Trump, the nostalgic dreams of former French greatness, with Marie Le Pen…), but we can consider the leftist variations, such as Bolivarianism and even the combination of the traditional Chinese cultural legacy (Confucianism) with the history of reconstruction and national rebirth, after the so-called century of humiliations, of the 1949 Revolution.

It is good to emphasize that these projects do not challenge the hegemonic organization of global capitalism, at most they introduce containment measures through the valorization of different logics (national, moral, religious) to attenuate limitless liberalism. The contradiction between these alternative national projects and the hegemonic capitalism of the West can lead (in fact, it is already leading) to destructive and catastrophic wars, as in the scenario from 1914 to 1918 of the last century.


Finally, an alternative and now very weakened pole, organizing the contradiction between capitalism and an antagonistic and alternative socio-economic organization, albeit within the paradigm of modernity: socialism.

Without a universalist alternative of a new humanity (which produced intense effects in the 1917th century after the October Revolution of XNUMX), I fear that we will sink into a false contradiction between two versions of capitalism, organizing nihilistic wars and enormous destruction of human resources and natural on the planet.

After the defeat of the USSR and its socialist bloc (which, let's face it, had been festering for some time before its demise), as well as the failure of Mao's attempt at his Cultural Revolution, only glimmers of an alternative idea of ​​humanity blossomed and the Latin America was a special stage for this, with its cycle of mass mobilizations and progressive governments.

In the old world, interesting movements in the wake of the Arab Spring, such as the Occupy Wall Street, the indignant Spaniards and the revolt of the Greek people, created political alternatives that generated a lot of hope and rekindled the flame of egalitarian passion. However, they soon capitulated or proved incapable (Syriza e We can) to be a real alternative.

In the intelligentsia, however, we see signs of a new generation of intellectuals, immune to the renegade sentiment of former leftists impacted by the fall of the Berlin Wall, interested in the power of Marxist ideas and in a critical balance, but neither defeatist nor resigned, of the history of socialism in the last two centuries. It is from there, and in the connection between this intelligentsia and the working people, especially its youth (disoriented and given over to the desperate nihilism that capitalism offers) that we must work.


Can we fit the Lula government into which of these three quadrants? A careful look will observe that the answer is: in all!

In relation to the first: Lula consolidates himself as an anti-Bolsonaro leader by forming a broad front, whose only point in common is the defense of democracy and the minimum parameters required of political correctness. His intention to form an international anti-fascist united front has Joe Biden as a privileged interlocutor, due to the common interest in defeating a political opponent more like a gangster than a traditional politician. Perhaps this is the main factor explaining the fact that the Brazilian Armed Forces, traditional Washington hounds, did not embark more audaciously on the Bolsonarist coup.

But Lula is also, in part, the result of a local reaction to the neoliberal triumphant with the end of the Cold War. It still incorporates, even if timidly, a certain intention to make Brazil have some sovereign autonomy in strategic matters, as happened with the policy for Petrobras in the past, in addition to leading a regional integration that is not dependent on Washington. The ideological weakness of Lulism prevents this sketch from acquiring a more programmatic and clear character.

Finally, the PT is the result of the popular struggle of an emancipatory nature and with motivations that are critical of capitalism and its inherent exploitation. In a way, it anticipated by a few decades this whole new wave of movement-parties critical of the wildest aspects of hegemonic capitalism. Of course, all of this is very insufficient to configure a really threatening strategic alternative to the dominance of the financial oligarchy (in the end, the PT did not really overcome social democracy or national developmentalism, as it originally intended), but it outlines feelings and intentions of something different, it generates expectations, raises complaints and hopes for something new. It can feed struggles and popular movements, if they know how to explore the gaps, not being paralyzed by adherence and institutionalism. Only a new communism can, on a global level, represent any truly antagonistic alternative.

This character of PTism is, however, increasingly overdetermined by the primary contradiction between democracy and fascism, which weakens its more radical and militant aspects (to which is added the strong defeat imposed on CUT unionism since the Temer government and its current state of political turpitude), still alive, however, mainly for those who still maintain a sense of political belonging to the Cuban experience and to the most advanced elements of the subcontinent's anti-imperialist progressivism.

The orientation of foreign policy and economic policy seem to promise, however, more social-liberalism in the name of unity against Bolsonarism than audacity towards social transformation. Whether this is enough even for the limited objective of a “national reconstruction” (that is, a restoration of the consensus refractory to the years of military dictatorship, stabilized in the 1988 Constitution, threatened with death by Bolsonarism), remains to be seen. Skeptics, including myself, observe that without ideas and popular struggle guiding an alternative strategic path to capitalism, the clouds of a possible extreme climate event (fascism) always hover over weakened liberal democracies.

* Diogo Fagundes for master's degree in Law and graduating in Philosophy from USP

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